01.09.2019 00:00 h.
Roger Molinas (L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, 1981) is a multifaceted man. Archaeologist by profession, and a graduate in History, this leftist activist is also known for his Twitter nickname: “Arqueòleg Glamurós”. Militant of IC-V in his city, a member of the Comuns Federalistes sector and of the National Council of Catalonia in Comú, as well as of Federalistes d’Esquerres, among other spaces, is very outspoken in refuting the arguments of the nationalism, in general, and of the Catalan pro-independence groups, in particular.
Among these arguments is the identification usually made by the latter between Spain and Franco. One of the most recent examples was last weekend when, on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Paris, in which the Spanish exiles of La Nueve participated, Quim Torra published a tweet to warn that, in 1944, “the Spanish role in World War II was just sending thousands of Blue Division soldiers to fight alongside Hitler”. in response to another message from the Ministry of Justice, that “the republican soldiers of La Nueve continued to fight against fascism and the dictator Franco’s Spain”.
– What did you think of that message from Quim Torra? With his words, wasn’t he implying that Spain was only its government, Franco’s regime, and those who gave him support?
It seems absurd to me that Torra criticizes the Franco regime in Spain when Convergència was the party which recycled more Francoists in Catalonia during the Transition. 43% of Franco’s mayors who were again candidates at that time did so under the acronym of CiU [95 out of a total of 219, as he explains in his blog]. It’s funny that Torra spoke of the Blue Division as an example of what Spain did, and forgot to mention that Primitivo Forastero, mayor of CiU in Camarles, was one of its fighters. What was the legitimate Catalonia between 1939 and 1975? That of the former presidents Companys, Irla and Tarradellas, or that of the Civil Governor selected by Franco? For me, it was the exiled Generalitat. For 40 years there was a division between legitimate and legal power that came out of the Republican elections of February 1936 and the coup government, illegal and illegitimate, that usurped power for those 40 years.
– Does Torra’s comment seem absurd?
More than absurd, it is a biased vision. Torra biases to make believe that all Spain was Franco and Catalonia, republican, when as everywhere the Civil War was a class war. In Catalonia, the Regionalist Lliga de Cambó financed Franco to recover its factories, which had been usurped by anarchists and communists, and supported him at all times.
– Everywhere was the same?
The mayors during the Franco regime were people with Catalan surnames, not anyone who came from abroad. They were people from here, even of Catalan tradition, of the right, Catholics, Carlists… They were mayors in Vic, in Berga, in Manlleu, with all normality. And when the Transition arrived they decided to move from the Falange to Convergence. As for example Josep Gomis, mayor of Montblanc since the 60’s. When the Transition arrived he went to Convergence, and became an advisor to Jordi Pujol, having been a Falangist before. On the other hand, in the metropolitan area there was a break. Because there was a worker, proletarian, class-conscious immigration, and PSUC and communism would be more important. There was a real change and rupture there in the mayors, undoubtedly anti-Franco, also of the PSC. This happened in the big cities and in the metropolitan area. But in rural Catalonia, no.
– In this sense, from some areas of more identity nationalism, the idea that Franco promoted immigration to dilute Catalan culture has been transmitted. It was like this?
No, on the contrary. Franco tried to prevent immigration from coming. There was even an internment center in Montjuïc, where he locked up more than 15,000 people who came without a permit, because it was necessary to work, and were returned to their places of origin. Franco wanted to prevent people from changing their address and having anonymity. That’s why he created the ID. In the 40s were the maquis in the Pyrenees, in the Sierra de Jaén … they were anti-Franco guerrillas who were still fighting at that time. And to avoid it, Franco tried to control the population. Any person who wanted to go from his village to another, even if it was a week and in the same province, needed a permit.
– In the 60s, that situation changed…
In the 60s there was an ideological change, Opus Dei entered the Government and carried out the developmentalism, neoliberalism within Francoism, which finished off autarchy and protectionism, and boosted construction and industry. This caused that in Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia and Barcelona there was a great demand for cheap labor. In Catalonia, the Franco bourgeoisie that supported Franco wanted cheap labor. And the people who arrived with an anti-Franco ideology are those who will later create the PSUC cells, which will end up in the democratic town halls, the neighborhood movements … and from which names like Gregorio López Raimundo, leader of the PSUC, leaders of CCOO or mayors like the mayor of El Prat, who was born in Córdoba, would come out.
– What happened to Catalanism in those years?
Omnium Cultural was legal under Franco, who had no problem with Catalan culture as long as it was a bourgeois, regional and folkloric thing, and did not represent a threat to the stability of the system. Franco’s real obsession was communism. And he pursued the PSUC cells and the maquis for many years, which were the ones that represented a problem, and not the Catalan bourgeoisie, who read poetry from time to time. The majority of Franco’s mayors were Catalan and spoke Catalan. Catalan culture was not a threat at that time for him, as long as it was docile.
– This week two years will have passed since the days of September 6 and 7 in the Parliament, when the so-called ‘disconnection laws’ were passed. What did you think?
It is a bit similar to what is happening now in England with Boris Johnson: trying to silence the parliamentary opposition in order to make a master move. Bypassing all legal controls to try to impose laws that, here, did not fit within the Constitution. I really liked the speech made by Joan Coscubiela, from the left, to denounce the lack of democratic guarantees. There was no legality or respect for the rights of the opposition.
– And is it comparable to what happens with Brexit?
He had a mentality similar to that of Johnson, trying that the MPs of the opposition do not hinder a possible application of hard Brexit, and imposing the executive power and the supposed will of the people above the guarantees of parliamentary democracy. Saving the distances, because obviously there things are done within the law, with the support of the Queen. Here everything was done outside the law. Knowing perfectly that the Constitutional Court and the Council of Statutory Guarantees said that it was not legal.
– How do you rate the current government of the Generalitat, and the cuts just announced by Vice President Pere Aragonès?
We have an inoperative government that has done virtually nothing, beyond going to folk fairs. They have only passed one law in almost two years. They only care about symbolic gestures, and have no interest in governing public administration. They have made cuts because they have not been able to approve the Budgets. They always say that they have no money, but neither have they been able to negotiate with the Government of Spain the approval of the General State Budgets. The Catalan Government is made up of two parties that hate each other: JxCat and ERC. Each one pulls in its direction, and they are more worried about the next elections than by the day to day of the Generalitat. They have put very bellicose ministers on the national issue, but without any experience or interest in day-to-day management.
– Do you see many differences, apart from mutual animosity, between JxCat and ERC?
Lately it seems that JxCat has opted for a more radical path, with a more identity and visceral nationalism, taking advantage of any rumor, any fake new or conspiracy theory. While ERC does seem to be landing a bit in reality. Returning from the abduction of this magical procés thinking and playing with the feet on the ground. The have realized that without pacts and alliances this is very difficult, that they need to broaden their base and weave complicities with other agents. And they need to talk to Spain, with the PSOE, with the Communs and other left-wing parties to change things.
– And why doesn’t JxCat do it?
JxCat is still with the magical thought that Puigdemont is the Messiah and that this will be solved in one afternoon. I guess that’s what gives them votes. It seems that a part of their electorate keep them in tension, but in the metropolitan area the PDeCAT has fewer and fewer councilors, and has disappeared in many cities. It has support in rural areas, in inland Catalonia, but in the metropolitan area they have almost disappeared. I don’t know if a party can govern the Generalitat without having any mayor or any support there.
– Is the Puigdemont figure a distorting element?
He is an electoral element because of his magical halo that he called the referendum, fled and is the president in exile, a kind of martyr. It is clear that in the European elections they did much better with Puigdemont than in the municipal elections without him. But this ends quickly, because its ID, it seems, expires in February 2020. If elections are not called before, he cannot be a candidate.
– You were in the square of Sant Jaume on the day of the investiture of Ada Colau as mayor of Barcelona. What did you see?
The supporters of Ada Colau, of BComú, were a group of about one hundred people, surrounded by a rough 10,000 who were radical followers of the procés of JxCat, very angry and aggressive, who began to push and insult us. They threw us banners, cornered us, surrounded us and insulted us in a very aggressive way. There were moments of tension I thought could end in a pitched battle. Good thing it didn’t happen.
– Do you think something similar can happen with the former mayor of Madrid, Manuela Carmena, in the proclamation of the Mercè festivities?
Yes, surely. Normally what the procés people do is one proclamation in parallel with Toni Albà, in another place, because they don’t like her. The proclamation is within the City Hall. Maybe some group of radicals go to the square to say four hooliganisms and that’s all.
– The controversy comes because Carmena said that, for her, politicians in pretrial detention because of the procés are not “political prisoners”, but “politicians in prison.” Do you think she is right?
They are not being judged for their ideology, they are judged on what they did; therefore they are not political prisoners. But I consider that there has been a kind of revenge and heavy hand so far. For example, preventive detention was not necessary, there were many other ways to prevent their escape. And extraordinary measures have been taken because they are politicians and the political burden that all this had. We’ll see how the sentence is. The trial has had all the guarantees, for me it is unappealable. But the fact that they have been in pretrial detention demonstrates, in my view, that there has been a certain fierceness on the part of Justice.
– Do you think that in the pro-independence side there is an excess of intransigence, that the mass of what we would call hyperventilated inside it is considerable?
It is difficult to quantify. On Twitter, without a doubt, they are 90%. In real life I hope they are less, and I hope they don’t take things so hard. When you have been radicalizing all these people, telling them that Spain is bad, that there is a conspiracy against us, that they are killing us, then returning to normality is not easy. I think this is what ERC is trying to do. When you have made believe that you had a State within reach, that it was as easy as proclaiming it, and that you would have salaries of 2,000 euros, then you tell them that all this was not so easy and that they have to return to their home… well, of course, these people are angry. The procés has generated anger and rage, they promised things that could not be fulfilled. Managing this frustration is a great challenge for the pro-independence groups right now.
– Are those responsible for reaching this level of frustration only the leaders of the Generalitat, or are there more?
There have been many responsible. People who have dedicated themselves to fueling the fire are on both sides, both in the pro-independence side and in the PP and Ciutadans. While in the middle, the Comuns and the PSC, from my point of view, tried to bring spaces and create bridges, in the extremes they dedicated themselves to throwing gasoline and setting fire to coexistence.
– What do you think might be the solution to all this problem?
I defend federalism as an intermediate point among people who want centralism or independence, a point where most people could feel comfortable. What difference would it have with the State of Autonomies? Very simple: in a federalism, the autonomous states, federal, would have very clear and guaranteed competences. There would be no such conflicts with the Constitutional Court. As in the US, where there is a federal government, and then there are state governments with their laws.